November 30, 2012
Music and the Brain
With all that stuff going on in there no wonder my brain hurts sometimes.
November 28, 2012
Earl (Speedo) Carroll, Lead Singer of the Cadillacs, Dies at 75
New York Times
Earl (Speedo) Carroll, the lead singer of the 1950s doo-wop group the Cadillacs, who later found contentment, plus a measure of abiding renown, as a New York City school custodian, died on Sunday in Manhattan. He was 75. The cause was complications of diabetes and a recent stroke, said Vito Picone, the lead singer of the doo-wop group the Elegants and a longtime friend.
One of a cornucopia of street-corner tight-harmony groups formed by young black men in midcentury Harlem, the Cadillacs were among the first to incorporate rigorously choreographed dance moves into their performances.
The group, which flourished for about a decade starting in the early ’50s, had hits with “Gloria” and “Speedoo,” whose title is a variant spelling of Mr. Carroll’s nickname.
Mr. Carroll later spent two decades with the Coasters before rejoining a new incarnation of the Cadillacs about 30 years ago. Buoyed by the tide of R&B nostalgia, the new group toured throughout the United States and abroad, performing mostly on weekends to accommodate Mr. Carroll’s day job at P.S. 87 in Manhattan.
A great example of "Don't give up your day job."
November 26, 2012
Human Nature featured in PBS special
I happened to catch some of the latest PBS fundraising special this weekend featuring the Aussie vocal quartet Human Nature and their Motown Show. Started as kids the group sang mostly a cappella for many years until they made it big in Australia. They made their name in the US by having their own show at the Imperial Theater in Las Vegas where they just ended their 3 1/2 year run. They are now touring nationally plus a Christmas tour in Australia. They sang several songs a cappella on the PBS special and are certainly talented entertainers.
November 23, 2012
New Real Group release - The World For Christmas
A sublime present from one of our favorite groups of all time, Sweden's veteran, groundbreaking mixed-voice vocal jazz quintet, The Real Group. "The World for Christmas" is their second holiday album since the critically acclaimed and heavily awarded "En Riktig Jul." What we particularly love about this CD is that they've divided the 13 tunes into two parts, "a relaxed part and an upbeat part, so you can easily choose the Christmas feeling you want to experience! Many of the songs have a little of both, like Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song" and the sexy, funny, jazzy "Santa Baby" with some lovely faux horns. Other favorites are, in the relaxed group, Joni Mitchell's sweet, poignant "River," group stalwart Anders Edenroth's wonderful, thought-provoking title tune, "Silent Night" and beautiful Swedish Christmas songs "Nu Tandas Tusen Juleljus" and "Glans Over Sjo Och Strand." Favorites in the upbeat section are a marvelous arrangement of Sammy Cahn's "Let It Snow," a bluenote, laid back rendition of "Sleigh Ride," the traditional Swedish carol "Drang-Stalle," bright, sweet "Julen Ar Har," and "Fina Paket," all arranged by Anders, and the ringing, infectious round,"Julfemman." with extensive, colorful liner notes with shapshots showing the group members celebrating Christmas as children and finally together as a group. "The World for Christmas" is like 13 gifts in a single jewel box—simply give the box to your loved ones, and join them for any number of Christmases opening and marveling at each gift at your leisure! Get your copy here.
An interview with Mitch Grassi of Pentatonix
The GA Voice:
Mitch Grassi is one of two openly gay members of Pentatonix, the a cappella group that came to fame by winning the NBC series “The Sing Off” and continues to draw new fans via YouTube through covers ranging from Gotye to “Gangnam Style.”
Lead vocalists Grassi, Scott Hoying and Kirstie Maldonado performed as a high school vocal trio in Texas, adding members Avi Kaplan and Kevin Olusola before competing last year on “The Sing Off.”
We caught up with Grassi, age 20, as Pentatonix embarked on the multi-city U.S. tour that brings the group to Atlanta’s Variety Playhouse on Nov. 29.
A pentatone is defined as “a gapped scale with five notes; usually the fourth and seventh notes of the diatonic scale are omitted.” Please say something about the choice of Pentatonix as the name of the group.
The pentatonic scale is a scale that's very popular in R&B, soul and pop music. We use a lot of it in general and when we are writing music. It's a five-note scale and we have five members, so we thought it was pretty appropriate.
Do members of the group have assigned tasks? For example, are harmony or rhythm parts assigned to specific people or are the duties evenly distributed?
That’s an interesting question. I would say that Kevin and Avi are the rhythm section and the rest of us are the vocalists. Sometimes we’ll switch positions. I actually really do like doing rhythms, but it rarely happens because I can't get those low ends that Avi can usually get.
November 15, 2012
Angel Singing Penguin Goes To Heaven
New York Times:
Cleve Duncan, whose soaring tenor voice as lead singer for the Penguins helped propel the 1954 doo-wop ballad “Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)” to rock ’n’ roll immortality, died on Nov. 7 in Los Angeles.
Art Laboe, a disc jockey who promoted Penguins concerts and produced one of Mr. Duncan’s records, announced the death on his Web site. Many sources have Mr. Duncan’s age as 77, but according to his voting records he was 78.
“Earth Angel,” which has sold more than 10 million copies, was the Penguins’ only hit. But its rhythmic, wailing plea to an idealized young woman captured the spirit of the just-emerging rock generation. “Earrrrth Aaaangel, Earrrrth Aaaangel, will you be mine?” Mr. Duncan crooned, backed by close harmony vocals and a strong beat.
For many the song evokes a glittering, timeless vision of proms, sock hops and impossibly young love. Rolling Stone placed it on its list of the 500 greatest songs ever, and films like “Back to the Future” have used it to conjure an era.
Cleveland Duncan was born on July 23 of either 1934 or 1935 in Los Angeles, and learned to sing in his church choir and glee clubs. In 1953 he was singing in a talent show attended by Curtis Williams, an aspiring songwriter and baritone singer who thought Mr. Duncan would best give voice to “Earth Angel.” Read more.
Clive is second from bottom in photo. Sorry about the headline - I couldn't help myself..
November 14, 2012
New book release - A Cappella Arranging
For all the aspiring arrangers out there here is the definitive book from the master of the genre Deke Sharon. Deke has rightfully been called the "Father of Contemporary A Cappella" and his arrangements have become extremely popular for groups of all abilities. Although Deke has many hundreds of published arrangements this is his first published book and we recommend it to all who wish to learn from the best on how to arrange the music themselves.
November 8, 2012
NBC casting new vocal game show
NBC has green-lighted "The Winner Is," a new vocal game show that showcases talented singers of all ages - soloists and groups that include adults, kids, teens, seniors, families and professionals - all of whom will compete in head-to-head singing duels.
The contestants will be judged by a special in-studio panel led by one celebrity judge (to be announced) as they compete for an ultimate cash prize of $1 million. In a unique twist, they will have the chance to negotiate a deal with their opponent. Before hearing their fate the contestants can choose to step out of the competition in exchange for a predetermined cash prize or continue on in the game.
The show comes from Talpa Media USA, Inc. (NBC's "The Voice"). John de Mol is the executive producer. The announcement was made by Paul Telegdy, President, Alternative and Late Night Programming, NBC.
All you need is a great singing voice, a big personality, and the ability to size up your competition. They are searching for individuals and groups who can sing any style of music-from country, pop, rock, and hip hop to opera and everything in between! More info.
November 3, 2012
Touche crowned Queens of Harmony 2013
Congratulations to Patty, Gina, Kim and Jan of Touche quartet who have just won the Sweet Adelines International competition held this year in Denver. Bling! took silver and San Francisco favorites Love Notes won bronze along with the Audience Choice award.
November 2, 2012
Singing group gets rocky reception at World Series
Air Force Times:
The 110th Airlift Wing “Knights in Blue” singing group out of Battle Creek Air National Guard Base, Mich., was selected to sing “God Bless America” at the World Series on Sunday night in Detroit. Their rendition of the song has since gone viral, and not in a particularly good way, with some commenters saying the performance was embarrassing.
The Michigan National Guard says the group has performed at air shows, parades, minor league hockey games and many Memorial Day and Veterans Day programs.
Boy did I cringe when I heard this during the game. Often the groups are nervous but this was just plain awful.